Monday, July 23, 2007

Fired: Blog back to sanity

You're being terminated.

That would have been a bad way to start a conversation. The odd thing though is that it wasn’t the beginning of a conversation it was the end of one. It was the end of an hour’s interaction that gave no hints that such a statement had already been prepared. Worse than that it was said to my back not my face; and the person who said it ran out the door, jumped in their car and squealed out of the drive.

How do you recover from that scenario?

You have to figure it out as you go. But some key evaluative processes have been helping me to discern what is truth and what is real; and reminding myself of those things has made a big difference in moving forward from one day to the next.

Start with the reason; or the lack thereof.

Most people are told a reason why their services are no longer needed by their employer. I was not given a reason, and still do not know the company’s official reason but several pieces of evidence have allowed me to formulate a reasonable hypothesis. The fact that the industry is in a crash and there is no business has to be factored in and lots of people have been let go recently. Still, there is a certain degree of shock in this sort of thing and there is always the second guessing about whether this or that could have done differently and so forth. However, I woke up around two the following morning to the thought “this is hilarious, I wasn’t fired for doing anything wrong.” The “official” word, if there is such a thing, is that my work was neither derelict nor incompetent.

What does it mean, or not mean?

I was fortunate to be working on a personal/professional change program at the time and that has mostly helped me see beyond the short-term damage to the opportunities that could become realities. The first thing I had to deal with was “what does it mean to my identity?” I didn’t realize it but I actually took the first step in the sign-out process.

The exit interviewer suggested that I would be more comfortable doing this in another part of the building. Well, I had nothing to hide but I noticed that she was squirming more and more as the exit interview progresses. So I stayed put in my chair which was about 20 feet from, and in full view of, the front door. Why? Because I heard a tape in my mind’s ear that moving out of sight was about shaming, and I hadn’t done anything to be ashamed of, so I should stay put and refuse that label.

So what happens next?

For the present I have been working on my blog, reporting and writing my newspaper column, and hanging out with some very savvy individuals online. I also continue to work on my “Setting a Powerful Intent” project from Christine Kane’s blog which had a major influence on several behavior decisions that I made through this process. Those had to do with deciding “how was I going to show up.” I also spend time reading Tim Draayer’s blog Live Your Best Life which I talk about in this post. Reading Tim led me to read Markova’s book I Will Not Die an Unlived Life in which she examines how to live a whole life rather than compartmentalizing the various roles. But she also writes about the degrees of separation between passion and rage.

It would be very easy, and totally justifiable, to get really bent out of shape. That is not to say that there weren’t fleeting moments. I fortunately caught on fairly quickly that whenever I started sliding back to the injustice side all positive work on my program and my writing stopped happening. So I determined to just keep moving forward and not backward.

But it was more than that. I connected in a unique way to Markova’s reflections on the “gap” between who’s right and who’s wrong as “needing filled.” That is so contrary to what I have heard and seen demonstrated by most of the people I have known. The most glaring example was my dad who couldn’t hold a job but it was always somebody else’s fault. There were only two views on any issue, his view and the wrong view (and those weren’t always the same two days in a row). I want to know if I can pursue writing with a passion but avoid mowing people over in the process? But at the same time I wonder if I can afford to take the risk. So I take it one step, one day at a time.

So how do you see the future?

Well, it isn’t all beer and skittles, yet. And while it is scary at times just thinking about how much responsibility taking on trying to make a living from writing would be; there is a part of me that feels liberated and challenged by the prospect. I know; all of that doesn’t quite seem to go together. I am also not saying that full-time writing is my next step either, I am considering all kinds of options.

But the biggest thing I have been learning is that I don’t have to have the whole map to start the journey. I have enough of one to get to the first campsite, and there I can check out some new scenery and rest my feet for a spell. On my retreat in December I sensed that things would move in my writing but I did not see in what way. I had sensed it was time to move on but I didn't see where to go. Now that I am out I see being at home, writing in my own studio, as the way I want to spend my professional and creative time at some point in the future. Maybe there is some specific work "out there" for me, but I don't have to figure it all out at once. I have work to do on my column and my blog; and those are valuable for the promise they hold of helping me become a better writer, even if they are not socially perceived as lucrative.

This was written as part of Problogger's "Summer Blog Tune-up."

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